Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Ford: Hangin' with Al Gore, the Hildebeast, and the Dixie Chicks

I have a few snippets on Harold Ford, Jr., as heard on Imus' joke of a radio show this morning, along with a few words of advice for Tennessee Republicans over at Blogging for Bryant.


The Truth is Coming Out About Bob Corker

This Letters to the Editor from the Nashville City Paper shows that some people are paying attention to the man behind the curtain and not falling for the lying advertisements of the mainstream media's great and powerful Oz:

To the Editor:
Facts are facts, Corker

I totally agree with The City Paper that Bob Corker’s record must be studied in historical context (“Study Corker’s record in context,” p. 6, May 25).

In this editorial, however, The City Paper misses the mark when it justifies the “hard decisions” that Corker made as mayor of Chattanooga while opting to ignore the truth about Corker’s record.

While his most recent TV ad claims that Corker lowered property taxes to their lowest rate since the 1950s, the facts paint a different picture. The facts are this: Corker raised property taxes in Chattanooga by 25 percent. Corker even publicly stated on several occasions that he had no intention to roll the tax increase back and the facts show he never did.

So how can Corker claim to have lowered property taxes to their lowest rate since the 1950s? The city’s taxes were lowered not because of anything Corker did, but because of a countywide property reappraisal that took place three months after Corker left office! Three months!

The facts are that Bob Corker takes a similar approach to taxes as Don Sundquist and no creative 30-second TV ad can hide that.

Alex Bissell

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Big Bryant Bash in Knoxville

As part of several East Tennessee events for U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant next weekend, a reception with Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is set for next Saturday night (June 3rd). This is the big event of next weekend, and it coincides with similar events in Memphis and Nashville involving Senator Trent Lott and Senator Sam Brownback, respectfully.

Senator Coburn has been a strong advocate for less spending and budgetary responsibility during his years on Capitol Hill (if we had more people like Tom Coburn in Congress, we wouldn't be in such a spending mess right now). It isn't often that we host such a notable conservative in KnoxVegas, so make arrangements to attend! The event invitation is below.


You are cordially invited to a reception
Ed Bryant
Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate
with Special Guest
The Honorable Tom Coburn
United States Senator, Oklahoma
Saturday June 3, 2006
Sponsor's Reception 7:00 p.m.
General Reception 8:00 p.m.
Club LeConte
First Tennessee Tower
830 South Gay Street
Knoxville, Tennessee 37929
Platinum Sponsor: $2,100 couple
Gold Sponsor: $1 ,000 couple
Silver Sponsor: $500 person
Tickets: $150 person, $250 couple
Dress: Business Casual
R.S.V.P. to 615-370-4540
or Via E-mail:

Friday, May 26, 2006


U.S. Senate: We Surrender!

Such a shame, folks. The U.S. Senate voted 62-36 to make amnesty and surrender the official immigration party of this country yesterday. A few points on the vote:

It isn't too early to contact House Republicans and encourage their galvanized support of the House bill in conference. This is an issue where strong leadership is needed, and GOP House Members need to know that you support them in this fight.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Bob Corker Hiding From Ed Bryant?

That certainly appears to be the case.

Now some have come out and called Bob Corker a coward. He might well be (it would, after all, give credence to the SpongeBob moniker with spineless behavior), but I won't go that far. I think it's a politically savvy move by his campaign team. The less that Tennesseans know about Bob Corker and his liberal vision for Tennessee the better. All they need to know is 1) he has a mother, 2) he has lots of money, and 3) he is very popular at Pilot stations. Isn't that reason enough to elect him to represent us in the U.S. Senate?

Over at Blogging for Bryant, I thought this comment from a reader going by the name of "Momma Corker" was priceless:

JB, you forget that Bob Corker's word is as good as his handshake, which is as good as a contract, which is as good as a certificate of authenticity, which is almost as good as the real thing. If Bob Corker says he'll debate, he'll debate. If he says he's pro-life, he's pro-life. If he says he began life as a bag of ice and only later developed human form, I'll take him at his word, which is as good as it gets. Because that's what Corkers are all about.

We've all thought it, so it's about time someone said it. Bob Corker's "vote for me because my word is my bond and I say I'm a faithful conservative" strategy either belittles the American right to vote because it should take more than someone's own testimony to elect them to the U.S. Senate or it belittles the work ethic and intelligence of Tennesseans because he doesn't think that anyone would possibly look at the evidence that creates a stark contrast between the advertised Bob Corker and the real Bob Corker. Maybe it does both.

I heavily criticized Van Hilleary when he ran from Jim Henry in the 2002 gubernatorial primary. Tennesseans deserve better than someone who runs and hides when their ideology is questioned. They deserve better than Bob Corker.


When Yankee Mayors Who Don't Believe in Civil Rights Attack!

Say Uncle has an excellent rundown of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's botched attempts at putting the blame for his city's inability to enforce its own litany of gun laws on gun dealers in other states. Oh what a tangled web we weave...

It's an interesting debate - which New York politician has the least respect for Second Amendment rights, Mayor Bloomberg or Harold Ford's good buddy Hillary Clinton?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Knox County Commission and Mayor Mike Ragsdale has apparently decided to imitate the GOP-led Congress in D.C. - spending like crazy. However, unlike the budget-busters inside the Beltway, the local guys and gals are looking at jacking up taxes to pay for their irresponsible spending - again.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel has a part of the story. I write that it is only a part because it is unfair to tack this on the police officers or the FOP just because they were the ones covered by the newspaper. Millions of dollars had already been doled out like Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions. I guess the people of Knox County who voted for Ragsdale this time around are about to get what they deserved.

If Ragsdale raises taxes again to pay for the Commission's fiscal irresponsibility, I will probably leave Knox County for good. Unless you need the welfare state that is being formed by Knox County, you are probably better off elsewhere. And that's a shame, folks.

MORE: Remember the arguments that Knox County government would cease to operate effectively if 12 term-limited incumbents were tossed out on their rears at the same time? Guess this debunks that theory, because it doesn't appear that the Knox County Commission is rerunning effectively now (unless you see spending up into what has been stated by one Commissioner as a $0.29 property tax rate increase or a $169 addition to Mike Ragsdale's wheel tax as "operating effectively").


Who drank Joboo's rum?

"Are you trying to say that Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?"

No, but some of His followers apparently can't.

Last year, the softball team at Immanual Baptist Church had a fairly successful inaugural season. We went 7-9, almost pulling off a .500 record with two elderly starters (one a septuagenarian). This year, however, I tried to convince the manager not to field a team. We lost three of our four starting outfielders (one to a move, one to an illness, and my brother-in-law to Clayton's industrial league team), and it isn't like we are any younger. My warnings were ignored.

Our second game was Monday night. We now have a .000 winning percentage and have been outscored by an aggregate of 54-2. Yes, that's right. 54 runs allowed, 2 runs scored. We haven't even managed double digits in hits after two games - combined.

I've played on some good teams in the past. Hilleary's Hitmen (which later became just the Hitmen when Marsha Blackburn's office took over the affiliation) won more than we lost. Immanuel Baptist's team last year wasn't that bad. However, this could be the worst team in softball history. I'm talking ever. I'm not sure, but we may be outmuscled by the teams in the co-ed league.

We have another game Tuesday night in Seymour. I might show up. Maybe...

Monday, May 22, 2006


Senate Cage Match?

Did "juvenile delinquent" (Dick Armey's words, not mine) Van Hilleary nearly "slap the taste out of (Bob Corker's) mouth" at a campaign event this weekend? Volunteer Voters has excerpts of the story.

I doubt it. Look at the source.

The truth and that source are rarely in the same hemisphere.


Hobbs Taking It to the Left

Man, am I glad that Bill Hobbs is back!

Just in the past few days, he has told the Right to screw the Left, exposed some extreme falsehoods coming out of the Tennessean regarding the spending surplus, brought attention to Governor Phil Bredesen's poll numbers being lower than popularly thought, and torpedoed Randy Neal's column in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Neal is the blogger formerly known as South Knox Bubba (another one of the hoard that preferred to attack from anonymity until he was outed). I also found his remarks in Sunday's paper to be laughable. Nice to see I'm not the only one.

I want to thank those liberals who conspired to free Bill Hobbs from Belmont. It certainly tilts the Blogosphere to the conservatives, as there are nothing but ankle-biters constituting the blogging Left. Thanks again!


Immigration Rodeo

Check out the post over at Donkey Cons on today's immigration headlines. Some quotable lines:

If more people watched C-SPAN instead of QVC, every member of Congress would be unemployed by Christmas in what I imagine would look something like a nuclear election holocaust.

I have this terrible feeling I finally understand what a 'compassionate conservative' is: an emotional train wreck.

The immigration debate in the Senate is descending swiftly into the silly. Certain senators have demonstrated that they have no idea what they're asked to vote for, or why. They can only hope the public is similarly dumb.

The final statement there is a potential blog post in the near future. In particular, it relates to the Senate race - primary and general election - here in Tennessee. Most of the candidates and their campaigns are relying on a dumb electorate. Bob Corker doesn't want a smart electorate, because then they would see that he raised taxes, supported Democrats, and was pro-choice. Van Hilleary doesn't want a smart electorate, because then he would be exposed for his ties to Jack Abramoff, his phony-baloney restitution for those ties, and bizarre campaign strategies involving Jane Fonda and fake "conservative truces." Heck, both Bob and Van need to keep from voters that they aren't even the best candidates in their own respective families (Jean Corker and Meredith Hilleary would take those honors, in my humble opinion).

Of course, Harold Ford doesn't want a smart electorate because they will uncover that every stance that he takes during the campaign is in direct opposition to his voting history in Congress. His campaign strategy may lie with the hope that the failing Memphis school system has produced enough voters to carry him to victory in November.

As for the Ed Bryant campaign, they have run into some difficulty in recent weeks in getting out their candidate's message. (Of course, even saying that, Ed won another straw poll in Shelby County over the weekend, this one by 40% over second-place Corker and extremely distant third-place Van Hilleary. Even through a lull in his campaign momentum as Corker spends his millions, Bryant still has strong showings amongst the party faithful.) There certainly is no need to panic, because we still have over 2 months left, but Ed needs to get his message to the people and not be drawn down into the mire by Hilleary or baited to spend his campaign money too early by Corker.

Well, I guess this isn't a future post at all...


Comment Changes

Due to my being too busy to trace down anonymous commenters (especially when several people are on the site at once and they are from Columbia, SC, Portugal, and Johnson City, TN, amongst other places), I have banned anonymous commenting on VOLuntarilyConservative. I should have done so earlier, as I would never have allowed anonymous material in the newspaper when I was editor and feel it to be worthless in nature due to its lack of authentication. Besides, who cares what a coward has to say?

I'll try this format and see if it works. If this doesn't remedy the problem, I'll go to comment moderation and (much like Bill O'Reilly) will require name and town before any comments go to post. I certainly hope it doesn't come to that, folks.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Sticking with the NASCAR theme...

An article in the Tennessean reminded me of a free agent driver that needs some attention.

If any NASCAR team owner with a vacancy has a desire to put a great driver and even better person behind the wheel of his car, one need look no further than Ward Burton.

I'm a Bill Elliott fan from back in the early 1980's. Right now, I have very little allegiance to any one driver, although I do cheer for Sterling Marlin when he is in contention (which, unfortunately, isn't often these days). I could easily cheer for Ward Burton, car owners. Forget these young never-won-anythings that keep getting promoted to the Nextel Cup level. (Remember the good ole days when one had to win the Busch Series or later the Craftsmen Truck Series to get a shot at the big boys? Nowadays, one doesn't even have to finish in the top 10 of any series to get a shot - as long as he has a baby face and can speak in perfect cliches.)

Are you listening, Robert Yates? Chip Ganassi? Call Ward. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


NASCAR call to arms

Folks, help out fellow Tennessean Sterling Marlin by voting him in as the Wild Card in tonight's NASCAR All-Star Challenge. Click here, register with (it's free), and help out Sterling. He bleeds orange, and he could use your help to get into tonight's main event.

Follow the Ford family credo: vote early, vote often, and vote with or without a pulse!

Friday, May 19, 2006


Smoky Mountain High

Since I've put more time in at work over the past two weeks than at any other fortnight this year, the VOLConWife and I knocked off a bit early Friday (translation - 3:00) and hit the road for the Townsend entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. One of the great things about Knoxville is that I can leave downtown and be in the Smokies in about an hour. The VOLConWife and I used to take advantage of this feature during our 3L Year of law school at UT, and we most recently completed over a half-dozen hikes of various lengths and difficulties (including Chimney Tops) last summer.

Today was our first hike together this year. We hit Abrams Falls in Cades Cove (pictured above), a 5-mile "moderate" trail that leads to the powerful 20-foot waterfall. As with my hike last weekend to Spruce Flats Falls near Tremont, the mountain laurel lining the streams are blooming, making for fragrant and beautiful hikes.

Also of interest - the deer population in Cades Cove is a bit out of control. We saw at least three dozen in the Cove, and we weren't exactly looking like all of the deprived Yankees along the 11-mile loop. They also seemed to be a bit too tame, an example of which was seen early in the loop with a large doe feasting on ferns on the roadside within petting distance of the VOLConWife.

I'm proud of the VOLConWife, for sure. It was her first hike this year, and we make the trek up from the falls to the trailhead in right at one hour. She just remarked that her legs are going to be achy tomorrow. I think I will keep my mouth shut, because mine are already inoperative.


Democratic Smears Assist Conservatives

OK, this is funny...

1) Democrats smear Ann Coulter, attempting to link her to (what in there eyes is) a "white supremacist" author.

2) Ann Coulter counters by stating author is not a "white supremacist," that he is a victim of smears by both liberals and neocons because he is for a strong immigration policy.

3) Democrats turn up the heat.

4) Book sales for Ann Coulter and "white supremacist" skyrocket.

Yeah, that's a well-executed game plan, libs...

Read about it over at Donkey Cons.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Republican-controlled General Assembly? Why is that a good thing?

I have been thoroughly disappointed by the Republican-led Tennessee Senate this year. I know they took up that oh-so-important motorcycle helmet bill and all, but it seems that the Republicans fail on so many levels whenever a chance presents itself to take a stand on issues that effect Tennesseans.

Take for instance the Cover Tennessee vote yesterday. Jim Bryson proposed an excellent amendment that would have capped medical malpractice awards, which would have dealt a major blow to the liberal trial lawyers of this state and greatly assisted medical professionals, especially doctors that practice as OB/GYNs. Tennessee is a state that is recognized nationally as having a crisis in terms of its healthcare providers, with some multi-county areas not currently having any specialists such as OB/GYNs practicing there.

Republicans control the Senate committee, but they were still unable to tack on the amendment to the Cover Tennessee bill. Why? A mixture of traitorous Republicans (like Mike Williams from here in East Tennessee) and non-voting abstentions (like Mae Beavers and Rusty Crowe). The amendment failed, the bill moved on to the whole Senate, and the body passed the repackaged version of TennCare on a 31-1 vote (Beavers being the only vote of opposition). Unbelievable.

Passing that amendment was a win-win situation for the Republicans. It may have been the "poison pill" that would have caused the Democrats to work for the bill's defeat. If it passed, the expansion of TennCare may have been palatable with such a victory for the doctors of Tennessee. Yet, the Republicans could do nothing positive, instead losing on all counts.

So, when Tennessee Republican Chairman Bob Davis speaks to Tennessee Republicans about the need to take the Tennessee House this election cycle, do you now understand why I don't get energized to help the party? If they are going to govern like Democrats, support the Democratic Governor every time he wants to expand the size of government and spend more of your tax dollars, and then campaign as conservatives when it comes time for re-election...

Well, it's hard to see a difference between the parties there.

UPDATE: I intercepted this e-mail from the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association (of which I am not a member) regarding the votes cited above.

Trial Lawyers and Friends:

An update regarding so-called medical malpractice tort "reform" efforts in the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives follows.

By now, you know that a third medical malpractice "reform" amendment to the Administration's CoverTennessee health care initiative was filed in the Senate late Tuesday afternoon. That amendment, sponsored by Sens. Bryson and McNally, was defeated on the Senate floor this morning by a 13-16-3 vote.

Ayes - (supporting the tort "reform" amendment) - 13 Senators - Black, Bryson, Burchett, Finney, Fowler, Ketron, McLeary, McNally, Miller, Norris, Ramsey, Tracy & Woodson

Noes - (against passage of the tort "reform" amendment) - 16 Senators - Bowers, Burks, Cohen, Cooper, Crutchfield, Harper, Haynes, Henry, Herron, Jackson, Kilby, Kurita, Kyle, Persons, Williams and Mr. Speaker.

Present but not Voting - 3 Senators - Beavers, Crowe and Southerland

After the tort "reform" amendment was defeated, Sen. Beavers moved to reconsider the actions of the Senate (and to re-refer the CoverTennessee bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the purpose of considering so-called medical malpractice tort "reforms."

Sen. Jerry Cooper moved to Table that motion. Sen. Cooper's motion to Table Sen. Beavers' motion to re-refer prevailed on a 16-14 vote--preventing the bill from being returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the purpose of adding tort "reform" amendments.

The two other Senate Amendments containing so-called medical malpractice tort "reforms" were withdrawn after the defeat of the third, and the Administration's CoverTennessee health care initiative passed 30-1, without tort "reforms."

The TTLA Lobby Team thanks all of you who took the time to contact your Senator to help defeat these amendments.

On the House side, Reps. Glen Casada and Curry Todd sponsored three amendments to the Administration's CoverTennessee health care initiative that mirrored the so-called tort "reform" measures included in the Senate amendments sponsored by Sens. Bryson and McNally.

After considerable pressure and lengthy debate, both Representatives withdrew their tort "reform" amendments and the CoverTennessee bill passed 78-19 at 8:50 p.m. this evening.
The TTLA Lobby Team thanks all of you who took the time to contact your Representative to help defeat these amendments.

Please watch for LEGISLATIVE ALERTS in the coming hours on this issue, as the Administration's CoverTennessee health care initiative returns to the Senate for further action.

Thank you.

Mary Littleton
Legislative Counsel
Tennessee Trial Lawyers' Association

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Radio Star?

Terry Frank is on the radio. Stacey Campfield is on the radio. Now David Oatney is on the radio.

So, when am I getting my own show? I know I haven't been on the airwaves in a few years, but I don't want to be left out on this blogger-turned-radio-star revolution...


A "Da Vinci Code" Must Read

I thoroughly enjoyed Mark A. Rose's expose on The Da Vinci Code last week. You can read his posts chronologically here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. If you are short on time, the last few posts have more meat to chew on than the first ones.

I have no plans to see the movie. I figure my money is better spent on X-Men III on Memorial Day weekend. For some reason, Tom Hanks' hair in The Da Vinci Code seems scarier to me than Magneto's mutants.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Candidates on Immigration

Here are a few of the press releases and reactions I was e-mailed this morning on President Bush's immigration policy. Two are from candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat, and two are from candidates for the U.S. Senate. It seems that most Republicans are walking the party line on this one, with the notable exception of Ed Bryant, who has a position closest to my own. In the order I received them...


Cheek States that President Bush is Right Putting National Guard Troops on Border to Get Illegal Immigration Under Control

(Johnson City) – Republican Congressional candidate Vance Cheek, Jr., the only candidate who has served in state government as a judge and in local government as a Mayor, said that he applauds President Bush’s call to increase the deployment of National Guard troops along our border to get illegal immigration under control. Bush will call for troops in a speech tonight.

“We must stop illegal immigration,” Cheek said, “People who come here legally, following the law, should be allowed to stay; but we need to enforce our laws on those who are here illegally. I support President Bush’s call up of National Guard troops for our border.”

“While some tout the economic benefits of immigration, there are also costs associated with illegal immigration as well. One study stated that illegal immigrants are estimated to use $2,700 a year more in services than they pay in taxes, creating a total fiscal burden of nearly $10.4 billion on the federal budget in 2002 and that doesn’t even take into account the cost to state government. Our taxpayers should not shoulder this burden,” Cheek said.

“While we start to take action to stem the flow of illegal immigration we also must be mindful of the cost of government. It is my hope that stopping illegal immigration will help save our government and taxpayer’s money and help get government spending under control,” Cheek added.

Cheek also said that terrorists have the ability to cross the border along with illegal immigrants making our nation unsafe.


David Davis Praises President Bush’s Immigration Plan

(Johnson City) – State Representative and First District Congressional Candidate David Davis(R-Johnson City) expressed strong approval tonight for the aggressive immigration policy put forth by President George W. Bush and said that closing American borders to illegal immigrations must occur for the plan to be successful.

“President Bush understands that before we deal with people already residing in our country illegally, it is essential to seal the border from further illegal infiltration. This was the first point discussed by the President, and I believe that fact is a reflection of his commitment to solving this crucial problem,” Davis said.

The congressional candidate also expressed support for the President’s call for stiffer punishment for apprehended illegals.

“The catch-and-release practice does not deter those who break our laws,” Davis said. “I stand firmly behind President Bush in his proposal to establish tougher policy on illegal immigrants."
Davis said that all Americans must work together for Bush’s plan to achieve success.

“The education, healthcare and tax systems supported by law-abiding taxpayers are all being exploited by these illegal immigrants,” said Davis. “Punishing employers of these individuals is a necessary component to solving our immigration problem, and I am pleased that the President addressed this topic. Our nation must work together in order to preserve the prosperity of our country.

“And due to the harm which can be done to our nation through persons entering our country unlawfully, I believe that absolutely no amnesty can be extended to these individuals.”
Davis called for all border security solutions presented by the President to be used in fighting illegal immigration.

“I understand that a single solution will not solve the problem of individuals crossing our border illegally. In some rural areas, a wall or even a fence will be sufficient while the deployment of National Guard units is necessary in other places,” Davis said.

The Johnson City Republican further supported Bush by endorsing the concept of electronic surveillance.

“Our country enjoys the most advanced technology in the world, and I am pleased that President Bush will use these resources to solve this crucial problem facing our country,” said Davis.


"I commend the President for getting tougher on border security, including deployment of National Guard troops to the border and increasing the number of border patrol agents. However, any program that allows illegal immigrants to become legal is a form of amnesty and I am firmly opposed to that. The problem with illegal immigration is not just along the Mexican border, it's in Washington. We cannot reward illegal immigrants in any manner for their breaking the laws of our country."

"It's quite simple: no amnesty, no citizenship, no work visas, and no jumping in line for illegal immigrants. We need to enforce the laws on the books, strengthen the physical security of our borders, and empower the front lines, including local law enforcement, with proper training and resources, and allow the federal government to assist those agencies in enforcing our laws."

"On this issue there are clear differences between myself and the President. I do not support and will not support any type of amnesty program for illegal immigrants. No matter what you call this temporary worker program, it still is a form of amnesty for those who have broken our laws in coming to this country. The end result will be an increase in illegal immigration for those who are hoping that they can break the law and be rewarded with citizenship in our country."


“I agree with many of the provisions laid out in tonight’s address. As the President outlined, it is vitally important that we secure our borders immediately. The proposals to increase border security and provide stepped-up surveillance are steps in the right direction. I also support ending ‘catch and release’ and helping employers verify the status of their workers with a new identification card. However, I continue to oppose any immigration reform proposal that rewards illegal behavior by allowing those who have entered the country illegally to become citizens without first returning home and reentering the country legally.”


Bush's Immigration Policy

First of all, I want to reiterate where I see immigration falling as a policy issue. I believe it to be extremely important, right below the right to life, religious liberties, reducing the size of government, and the right to keep and bear arms. In the pantheon of policy issues, that is an extremely high place in the pecking order. Last summer, Grover Norquist told me that he believed eminent domain would be a voting issue that would sway voters - a future version of Roe, if you will. With all due respect to Mr. Norquist (one of the great political minds of modern American times), I must disagree (and I did even at the time last year). Immigration is the issue rising in importance in the American consciousness. My personal feeling is that it could make or break my support of a candidate.

Secondly, I have little reaction to President Bush's speech last night. Like many conservative bloggers, I was forwarded an advance copy of speech excerpts, facts and figures, and the speech in its entirety via RNC e-mail.

The rhetorical parts were very strong, but the actual solutions did not go to near the extents needed. Of course, I am one of the few in the American political debate that believes it possible to deport all of the illegal aliens. Even libertines like Neil Boortz believe President Bush to be right in this respect. I respectfully disagree. As Congressman Bill Jenkins recently stated, "It is time that we started acting like Americans." Senator George Allen and the late President Ronald Reagan also spoke along those lines about different issues, but the sentiment is the same. We did not emerge as the world's sole superpower by being defeatists. The American spirit is one of optimism, and that translates into how we deal with our problems. To throw up your hands, as this President has done, does not translate into the American philosophy. To say that we will fix the problem by jailing new illegals is akin to plastic surgery on a terminally ill cancer patient.

Given the night of the speech, I'm not sure which President I prefer -

This one...

Or this one...

Monday, May 15, 2006


Press Releases Gallore!

Here are a few press releases that have been sent my way over the past few days that might have slipped through the cracks elsewhere.


First, this from Vance Cheek, candidate for the 1st District Congressional seat.

Cheek Continues Touring District with Conservative Message Touting His Experience and the Need for Fiscal Discipline in Washington

(Johnson City) – Last night Republican Congressional candidate Vance Cheek, Jr., the only candidate who has served in state government as a judge and in local government as a Mayor, continued his tour of Tennessee’s First Congressional District by participating in a Congressional Debate held in Hamblen County.

Cheek continued to outshine other candidates with his upbeat message of economic growth for the region, supporting the President’s work protecting our nation and with stern warnings that Washington needs to get its spending under control and that we need to protect traditional, conservative values.

“Washington spending is out of control,” Cheek said. “We need someone who can go to Congress, stand out from the crowd and be a strong voice for prioritizing our spending. I am that candidate.”

Cheek stated that he supported Congressman Jenkins calls for a balanced budget amendment and that as the next Congressman from the District he will fight for the amendment.

Cheek also pointed out that unlike other candidates who take their cues from politics for their conservative values, his personal life story dictates his beliefs. Cheek was born with brittle bone disease, a disease that he has lived with and overcome, making his choice to fight for the right to life very personal. He is the father of a daughter bringing family values issues close to home and he has worked in local government to balance budgets and to create economic growth.

Next comes this from the NRA on Oklahoma's passing of the "Castle Doctrine" for the Sooner State. My question has to be why this needed line of legislation is yet to pass in Tennessee.


Today, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry (D) signed HB 2615, the NRA-backed "Castle Doctrine" self-defense bill, into law.

"I want to thank Governor Brad Henry for signing this victims' rights bill into law," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "When you're confronted by a criminal, you don't have the luxury of time. This bill states that if victims choose to stand their ground and fight, their decision will not be second-guessed by the State of Oklahoma. The ability to protect yourself, your children, or your spouse from harm is important, whether you're in your home or outside."

HB 2615 simply states that if a criminal breaks into your home, your occupied vehicle or your place of business, you may presume he is there to do bodily harm and you may use any force necessary against him. It also removes the "duty to retreat" if you are attacked in any place you have a legal right to be.

Further, HB 2615 provides protection from criminal prosecution and civil litigation for those who defend themselves from criminal attack. The "Castle Doctrine" bill met with overwhelming, bipartisan support, passing 96-2 in the state House and 83-4 in the Senate. Oklahoma joins eight other states that have signed similar legislation into law this legislative cycle.

"On behalf of all NRA members in Oklahoma, I want to thank Governor Brad Henry for signing this important bill into law. I'd also like to thank the bill's chief sponsors, Representative Kevin Calvey (R-94) and Senator Harry Coates (R-28), for their leadership in passing this vital measure," concluded Cox. "The 'Castle Doctrine' bill is about putting the law back on the side of the victim, the way it's supposed to be."


Finally, this attack from Mark Albertini raises more issues regarding Jim Bryson's leadership. While some believe that Albertini is running the good race to put forth his ideology, it is apparent that is not the case when one goes attacking the frontrunner. Albertini is going after Bryson because he wants to win the race - that's the only reason for going negative at this juncture. Look, more power to him, as I'm not going to tell him how to run his campaign. But make no mistake about it - Mark Albertini is trying to win the Republican nomination for governor.

Bryson Supported Driving Certificates For Illegal Immigrants

On May 11, 2004, the TENNESSEAN.COM reported that Senate Bill 3430 (SB3430), which established "a Certificate of Driving to replace driver’s licenses for people who could not prove they are U.S. Citizens or permanent legal residents," passed in the Senate.

Bryson, who was elected to the State Senate in 2002, failed to vote against the bill allowing illegal citizens to have the privilege of driving in Tennessee. Bredesen signed the final Bill into law. The program was disbanded by Bredesen after State officials and Illegals conceived a criminal conspiracy to obtain the certificates through fraud, even for out of State Illegals.

Republican Gubernatorial candidate, J.D. and U.S. Marine Corps Vet, Mark Albertini said "this program was dead wrong. These Certificates gave a legitimacy to what Illegals were doing-stealing into our Nation and living under all the same rights, benefits and protections of legal Tennesseeans and Americans. What was more important to Bryson, us or them? This says to me that Bryson does not really care about the safety and privileges of being a citizen of Tennessee, protected by the 14th Amend. to the U.S. Constitution. It says to me that Bryson does not honor what American soldiers have died for. I hope folks will see this before it's too late."

Albertini said "now, it seems, after the entire country is focused on Illegals, Bryson is trying to sound tough on Illegals as a Gubernatorial candidate. One has got to wonder, can I trust this guy to be my Governor and punish evildoers?" "You can get away with this as a Senator," said Albertini, "but if you are going to be the Governor and lead the State, you must have a record that shows you put the best interests of legal citizens first and that you are a leader who has the will-power to stand against opposition."

Albertini noted that we had better take the threats and plans of our enemies seriously before we cannot do anything about it. "Did Bryson even know who these people really were? Did he know why they were in America? Did he do anything in 2002 or 2003 to stop Illegal Citizens?"

Albertini noted further that although the Federal Government bears primary responsibility for Immigration (Naturalization-Art 1 Sec 8 U.S. Const.), TN should not be giving non-citizens the same rights citizens have.

Albertini pointed out that the Certificates could not be used as I.D. to buy a gun. But he said, "this is like firing a gun with no bullet. This is a ridiculous exclusion. When is the last time you heard of a gang member, armed robber or drug dealer going to a gun shop and showing his I.D. to purchase a gun? This certificate was actually an invitation to Illegals. I guess the simple question is, does State and National Security mean anything to Bryson?"


Weekend in the Smokies

I had a great time this weekend camping with my Dad in Townsend. A good deal of our time there was spent fly fishing in the national park, but we also hiked near Tremont and attended a concert featuring dulcimers and bowed-psaltries at Wood-N-Strings' Pickin' Porch.

If you are OK with paying a little more for a nice campsite, I have to recommend Little River Village Campground, which is the second campground from the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Lots of river access, some of the best bathhouses in the area, plenty of activities for the kids, and a friendly staff make this campground worth a few extra bucks in my eyes. If you don't want to part with those extra bucks and are there for fishing or tubing, you might want to look at Tuckaleechee Campground, who also had an extremely friendly staff.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Place Your Bets...

There has been an interesting discourse lately within the Tennessee aspects of the Blogosphere regarding Harold Ford, Jr.'s chances of winning the U.S. Senate race come November. First, the professional blogger, Kleinheider, wrote at Volunteer Voters that he estimated Ford's chances of taking the seat at 50/50, apparently due to what he perceives as difficulties that Ed Bryant would have in the primary that the former congressman would not have in the general election.

Nathan Moore, a Nashville conservative who I count as a friend but for some reason supports Bob Corker, took umbrage with Kleinheider's handicapping of the race. Moore even cited prospective margins of victory for the Republican candidates, although he didn't really match names to numbers.

Kleinheider came back to accept Moore's challenge, spelling out why he thought we could just as easily be looking at Senator Harold Ford, Jr., as compared to unemployed, never-worked-another-job-in-his-life-besides-Congress Harold Ford, Jr., come next January. The nuts and bolts of the argument relate to Ford being a more polished candidate than the aloof Bob Clement, and Lamar Alexander only beat Clement by ten points in 2002. The pro then put forth that a little wager might be appropriate. (Of course, given Van Hilleary's anti-gambling speeches and contrarian acceptance of pro-gambling money, I find it ironic that no one from Hilleary's camp has accepted some of A.C.'s action.)

Moore, like Charlie Daniels before him, decided to take that bet. He cites President Bush's high poll numbers amongst Tennessee Republicans as proof, under the auspices that Ford would need to skim some Republican votes to take the seat.

So, where do I come down on this? Well, I think it greatly depends on the nominee, and, thus, I have to agree with Kleinheider. Like A.C., I also consider Ford to be much more dangerous than Bob Clement, who I thought to be quite unelectable. I remember listening to Ford for the first time (WAY back) and thinking that he would be a force that would one day need to be reckoned with. That day of reckoning is quickly approaching, but he has more than helped out the Republicans by providing tons of personal ammunition and an inconsistent (and that might not be harsh enough) voting record.

I also question whether Ford needs any Republican votes. I tend to side with Senator Alexander on this one, who made it a part of his stump speech through the various Lincoln Day Dinners in 2005 to remind Tennessee Republicans that they are still not the majority party in this state. It's a year later, but I don't think that much has changed.

Back to the candidates - I think that one candidate (Bryant) has the demeanor and differentiated voting record from Ford to win by the numbers Moore suggests. I think one candidate (Corker) would allow for Ford to run to the right of the Republican nominee, possibly deenergizing the base and allowing for Ford to win by 3-4 points. The final candidate (Hilleary) is a toss-up. His voting record is conservative, but he has a habit of being abrasive to voters and party operatives. Even more worrisome is that his campaign staff and supporters are even more abrasive. I could easily envision a scenario where a Hilleary win would spark a wave of pompous, rude, and unprofessional celebration - both from the campaign and certain egotistical websites - that would erode the conservative base for Hilleary, ala 2002. Since I would put such sophomoric acts as a 50% probability in the occurrence of a Hilleary win, I have to agree with A.C.'s 50/50 shot of Ford winning.

Unlike Nathan and A.C., I won't put forth any wagers. I figure having the future of the Great State of Tennessee on the line is rich enough for my blood.


Court Tips

I have long been contemplating a series of posts as basic tips for readers who may one day find themselves as participants in litigation. However, with having been in court 11 out of the past 14 days, time usually does not present itself.

Today, though, is a rare case where I will present a tip. If you are a litigant in a case and find your attorney carefully listening to the legal arguments of opposing counsel during her closing arguments, it usually isn't a good idea to try to speak to him or her about ancillary issues. You might want to make a note of what you have to say and show it to him or her when the other attorney is done.

Just a thought. I saw this occur at least twice today in court, and I thought it prudent to mention here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


National Interest In Lt. Gov. Wilder's Ethical Problems

In case you missed it, Donkey Cons carried a post on Lt. Governor John Wilder's lack of ethics, including a link to Mark A. Rose's post along the same lines.

Anyone doubt that Wilder did it? An even better question, though, is the following:

Does anyone doubt that Wilder will get away with it?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Back in the Saddle Again

My apologies for the absence, but it could not be helped. Sadly, the PC which primarily brought you this blog is no more.

Last week, I thought it would be nice to add some music to the blog. By taking a cue from Brian's Blog, I found a website that would allow for this at no charge. Well, at no obvious charge, I should say.

While viewing a video for a possible song selection last Thursday, a trojan horse infiltrated my computer, pulling 3 other viruses in. Norton's 2006 (of which I will post more about later) did not block the intrusion attempts, but it did find the infectious agents after they had done considerable damage to Windows XP and, apparently, my harddrive.

The PC slowed to a halt on Saturday morning and refused to reboot. A review by the Geek Squad at Best Buy showed complete failure of the harddrive with no documents recoverable.

Today we purchased a new PC, monitor, and (unneeded) printer as a bundle from Best Buy. It is amazing how low the prices of boxes have fallen.

I will comment more later, with specific attention to the hypocrisy of Van Hilleary supporters, the incredible proliferation of Bob Corker signs in Knoxville, and how much I despise Barry Bonds and several of his racist defenders. Obviously, I have a backlog of thoughts that need spewing...

Saturday, May 06, 2006


A Short Break

Due to some suddenly needed software assistance, the home PC will be down for an unspecified amount of time (and blogging from the office, as I am now on a sunny Saturday in May, is a bit aggravating due to a slow connection speed). Thus, fewer posts will be the norm until everything is back up and running at home.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I am working on several future cases (a few of them of the high-profile variety), so that might free up some future time for this site (and others).

Friday, May 05, 2006


Ford Votes Against Building More Oil Refineries

The National Republican Senatorial Committee published the following release yesterday:

Harold Ford Jr. Votes Against Easing Refinery Regulations

WASHINGTON—The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued the following statement after Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) voted against a House bill that would streamline the application process for companies to build refineries in the United States:

“Harold Ford and his fellow Democrats had the opportunity to help lower the price of gas and improve our energy infrastructure, but instead chose to come down on the side of red tape and environmentalists,” said Dan Ronayne, NRSC Spokesman. “Ford’s vote to help kill this important bill will cost Tennesseans at the pump.”

HR 5254, sponsored by Congressman Barton (R-TX) would have streamlined the application process for companies to build refineries in the United States. Under the plan, the president would designate new sites suitable for oil refineries and require the EPA to provide financial assistance to states to facilitate applications for refineries.

Economists and energy experts have long said that expanding refining capacity is crucial to lowering the cost of gas. Yet the construction of refineries has halted due to burdensome regulations.

On "Meet The Press," economist Jim Cramer summed up the situation: “We have 140 refineries in this country; we had 350 refineries 20 years ago. We have a huge refinery problem, and you can’t build them.” (Jim Cramer, Meet The Press, April 30, 2006).


Any Questions for the 1st District?

Remember - today is the final day to submit sample questions or issues that you would like to see addressed by the 1st District candidates in an endorsement survey. I want to relay this survey to them by the first of next week, so act now or forever hold your peace!


Poll: Conservatives Behind GOP Slide

A new AP/Ipsos poll shows that a whopping 65% of conservatives disapprove of the GOP-led Congress' performance, with even 31% of conservatives desiring that the Republicans lose control of Congress in the 2006 elections.

This echoes what I have been saying for the past year. The Republicans have been no different than the Democrats since 2002 - campaigning as conservatives, running the country like moderates/liberals. The people have caught on and, without a serious energy policy (we won't count the downright idiotic $100 refund checks for gas usage as "serious") throughout that time adding to the irresponsible spending and failure to address social problems, Republicans are looking at real problems in November. Yes, the system is rigged for incumbents, but there is a good chance that control of both the House and Senate could come down to two races in each body.

The base on a national level is not energized. I'm not so sure I would include Tennessee in that categorization, but other parts of the country that have a slimmer margin for error have got to be worrying the RNC. I'm not saying that Tennessee is immune to conservative revolt, either. Just make Bob Corker the GOP Senate nominee and see if conservatives come out in November.



I think I might be taking too many unwinnable cases, because now my subconscious is beginning to notice.

Last night, I dreamt that I had been appointed to represent Ophelia Ford.

I might need to make an appointment with a shrink to erase that thought from my mind.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


More Liberal Lies from ""

Donkey Cons has a great round-up of lies, lies, and damn lies from and liberal bloggers, most of which is debunked by statistics, on their pushing of Keith Olbermann's show (no, not "Sportscenter" - the other one).

Of course, liberals are allergic to facts and data, so this will go unnoticed by the intended audience. Good conservatives should read it for entertainment's sake.


Summers Out as AG this August

Volunteer Voters has a story from the AP that states Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers will not seek reappointment, meaning that come September, we will have a new Attorney General.

Of course, simple voter, this means nothing to you, because the General Assembly doesn't believe you capable of electing an Attorney General like the voters of most states. No, the five appointees of the Governor's Mansion who wear the nice robes in the Supreme Court building - 4 of whom are Democrats - will make that decision for you.

And the AG's position isn't important, is it? After all, it was really the AG's erroneous opinion regarding term limits that caused all of the turmoil in Knox and Shelby Counties during the local elections concluded yesterday.

Oh, well, maybe it is important...


Reader Interaction

Ed. note: I am bumping this to the top of the blog for further comment.

I have two points that can involve reader interaction with VOLuntarilyConservative.

First, after seeing how successful including music videos on a blog can be through Brian Hornback's example (click over there now and hear some of "The King," uh huh), I decided to add (after much toying with the code to get the screen to fit in the sidebar) my own videos here. I had been hesitant to do so because I didn't want to make it so tough to load this page, but after looking at all of the DSL and cable connections that are viewing VOLCon (perhaps as many as 75% of the users, it seems), I thought we would give it a try. I will change up the videos every week for variety. If you aren't for this experiment, let me know.

The first video will be Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." I wanted something with a patriotic theme as we exercise our American right to vote tomorrow (Tuesday).

I have also rearranged the blogroll and added some new categories. This is something I have been toying with for a while.

Second, I have informed most of the 1st District candidates seeking my endorsement that I will be formulating a brief questionnaire in the near future. The answers to these questions will play a large roll in the endorsement from VOLuntarilyConservative. I have some ideas of particular questions to ask, but I am interested in hearing what you have to say. Leave any questions you have for the candidates in the "Comments" section, or e-mail them to me if you wish. I will be submitting these questionnaires to the candidates some time this week, with the understanding that the answers will be published on this site.

So, what say you, Tennessee conservatives?


More from The World of Oatney

David Oatney has much more analysis of last night's goings on at the Crowne Plaza GOP event.


Tennessee: The Difference in the Senate

JB, my fellow Blogging for Bryant contributor, beat me to the punch and put up some quotes from Charlie Cook's new piece for the National Journal. The column carries messages that I feel all Republicans should read, so much so that I thought I would post it in its entirety here. My fellow Republicans, it is straying from our conservative ideology and taking to the power of government as the Democrats did before us that has delivered us to this point.

How important is this Senate election in Tennessee? Bottom line: No election in the country may be more important. Do you want to hinge our Senate leadership on a failed gubernatorial candidate who thinks he is running against Jane Fonda or a millionaire with a record of raising taxes and flip-flopping that is better suited for the Democratic primary? I don't. That's why I will be voting for Ed Bryant on August 3rd.


Financial Hurdles
By Charlie Cook, National Journal

The last thing I wanted to do this week was to write yet another “President Bush and the Republicans are going down the toilet, and their majorities are doomed” column. But then two things changed:

First, a sequence of six polls indicated that Bush’s popularity may have fallen through what many observers had thought was its floor. Second, some top Republican strategists updated me on how they’re calculating that their financial advantages will be sufficient to counter the increasingly anti-GOP political environment.

In the six major national polls released over the past two weeks, the president’s job-approval ratings (in chronological order, beginning with the oldest) were 39 percent (Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg), 36 percent (Gallup), 35 percent (Pew Research Center), 33 percent (Fox News), 32 percent (CNN/ORC), and 36 percent (NBC News/Wall Street Journal). Although the NBC poll, taken April 21-24, breaks the pattern, Bush has never been so low in that survey before.

The overall downward trend is clear enough to make any Republican candidate or consultant reach for an air-sickness bag. Simply put, there is no reason not to expect that the political environment will be as hostile to Republicans this fall as it was to Democrats in 1994, when a rout cost them control of both chambers of Congress.

So, what could save Republicans? In the Senate, if the tidal wave is gigantic and every seemingly vulnerable incumbent Republican is swept out -- Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, Conrad Burns in Montana, Mike DeWine in Ohio, and Jim Talent in Missouri -- and if Democrats hold all of their seats, the GOP would still have a one-seat edge.

To take over, Democrats must win the open seat in Tennessee, where the winner of the August 3 Republican primary will face Democratic Rep. Harold Ford. If Republicans hold Tennessee, they hold the Senate. If they have a truly horrible night and lose Tennessee, they lose the Senate.

But should the GOP’s chances of picking up the open seat in Minnesota be dismissed so casually? Yes, even though Republicans have an excellent candidate in Rep. Mark Kennedy. And the same is true for the party’s chances in Washington state, where the GOP is fielding a formidable challenger to Sen. Maria Cantwell. The fact is, if the political environment is so anti-Republican that five incumbents lose, then the GOP won’t be able to gain ground in any Senate race. So, under the Republican apocalypse scenario, the Senate comes down to Tennessee.

In the House, where the GOP is more vulnerable, Democrats don’t quite have to run the table, but they must gain 15 seats to take control. In the 35 House races that The Cook Political Report rates as competitive, Democrats need to hold all 11 of their own seats while winning 63 percent (15 out of 24) of the GOP seats. That doesn’t sound nearly as daunting as the task facing Senate Democrats, who must win all 13 competitive races.

House Democrats have the momentum; Republicans will have the cash. Although the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has narrowed the cash-on-hand gap to $1 million -- down from $4 million at the end of 2005, Republicans are virtually certain to end up outspending their Democratic counterparts. The National Republican Congressional Committee is also likely to get a $20 million to $25 million transfusion from the Republican National Committee. The DCCC cannot expect similar aid from its less wealthy national committee.

Many of the House contests that Democrats must win are in very expensive suburban districts, where investing $1 million to $2.5 million in party money will probably be necessary to be truly competitive. Can the Democrats possibly keep up if the GOP starts pouring in millions?

Bottom line: Democrats have the political environment on their side, but with so many of their targeted states and districts located in expensive media markets, will they have the money they need to take advantage of the wind at their backs?


Late Night Yields Few Results

The VOLConWife and I attended the Knox County GOP function at the Crowne Plaza last night, which was supposed to center around the election results for that day. Unfortunately, something important was missing - the election results.

We all knew that there would be some delays with the mountain of paper ballots that needed to be counted, but for the voting machines not to work? Priceless, folks.

We did have a good time last night, though. Knox GOP Chair Brian Hornback made us feel right at home, introducing Angela to everyone in the room as the new State Executive Committeewoman (of course, we are not counting our chickens before they hatch and will run a small campaign leading up to the August elections). We were also blessed with the opportunity to speak at length with David Oatney about Tennessee and federal conservatism in the Republican Party. David certainly carries the conservative banner well, and we enjoyed our conversation greatly.

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Albertini was also present, and I was able to speak with him about the Hawkins County Lincoln Day Dinner, where I felt he should have been able to speak (as Jim Bryson was afforded that opportunity) before the straw poll commenced. Albertini was also very disappointed in how that turned out, as he was with Senator Bryson's abstention in the committee vote this week on Bredesen's CoverTennessee health care program. I agree with Albertini on both counts. I'm sure that Bryson had a reason for his lack of a vote, but it doesn't ring of conservative leadership.

My entertainment for the night came from Van Hilleary, who was also present. It wasn't that Van did anything entertaining, but he was there so I kept an eye on how he was accepted by the crowd. Honestly, few people came to the former congressman, and he stood at the back of the room and had several conversations with Mark Albertini throughout the evening. I'm pretty sure that Van wanted to address the crowd (I would have if I had been in Van's position), but that didn't happen.

Overall, it was a good night. Early election returns show that all of the judicial candidates I supported - including Bill Swann and Andy Jackson - should win election, although Jackson's race could tighten depending on the paper ballots. Steve Hall, who most conservatives in Knoxville supported but seemed to have no Election Day strategy based on reports of several pollworkers at one West Knoxville precinct but my own observations of no Hall supporters at several South Knoxville precincts, looks to have been soundly defeated by the tax-hiking Mike Ragsdale for Knox County Mayor. Most of the candidates I endorsed in races for the Knox County Commission appear to have won, including Tony Norman, who attended the party last night after apparently defeating Wanda Moody in the 3rd District, although David Kiger appears to be in trouble in his race against Paul Pinkston in South Knoxville.

WBIR is reporting that vote counting will once again commence at 1:00 P.M. today. Not to be overly critical, but the Knox County Election Commission can't receive high marks for this election. Computer glitches, mass confusion, and a lack of machine or paper ballot results late into the night and then into the morning is disappointing. Waiting to return until the afternoon to begin counting is even more disappointing and creates the question of why younger counters aren't being used who have greater endurance. It isn't like these problems snuck up on anyone.

All in all, this has been a tough time for Knox County. All votes need to be counted, winners declared, and this election put behind us.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Knox County Turnout Light?

I just returned from working the main South Knoxville polling place (South-Doyle High School) for Judge Bill Swann, and it appears from all indications that voting turnout is extremely light today. The weather can't be blamed- it was gorgeous this evening - and the other pollworkers (including school board candidate Jim McClain, David Kiger's identical twin Roger, and write-in candidate Peggy Loflin) were receiving reports from other polling places that indicate low turnout across the board.

Normally, I would think that such a scenario presents trouble for incumbents, but I'm not sure that is the case here. In particular, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale appears safe, as Steve Hall needed a strong showing in the heavily Republican precincts of South Knoxville to pull the upset. It probably didn't help that Ragsdale had an effective pollworker at South-Doyle, while Steve Hall had no one representing his interests. Perhaps someone had been present earlier in the day, but I was there for the big after work rush, and no Hall staff were mingling with the crowd when it counted.

Early reports also showed a high number of write-ins. In Sequoyah Hills, for instance, there were reports of 45% of the ballots being cast as paper ballots. South-Doyle's numbers were a bit lower than that, but they were still quite high. That being the case, it may be a while until we know the winners - even with a low turnout.


Election Day in Knox County

Judge Bill Swann

First, I would like to re-print a letter to which my name, along with those of 64 other Knoxville attorneys, was signed in the Sunday edition of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.


We are lawyers who practice in the Knox County Fourth Circuit Court.
We have represented you, your loved ones, and friends in all of the issues that come into that Court - divorce, custody, support and division of property.
We know how emotionally and factually difficult these cases can be and the toil that they take on your lives.
Therefore, it is important for all of us to know that the judge we are before will be fair, open-minded, and knowledgeable about these matters.
We cannot allow this judgeship to be used as a target for one person's anger.
We are deeply concerned that you may vote on the basis of a few distorted statements containing half-truths and outright falsehoods.
While some of us really know what happened in the cases cited by David Lee, all of us know that he cannot provide us with the certainty that he can properly and effectively perform the tasks of the Knox County Fourth Circuit Judgeship.
A person who has publicly written that he would resign if elected is not a qualified candidate for this position.
A person who has been involved in 11 divorce cases since 1992 in the Court in which he is running for election does not have the experience to resolve the issues before it.
Only a person who has year-in and year-out adhered to the highest ethical standards in search of knowledge in the area of domestic relations should be the recipient of your vote.
Vote for yourself.
Vote for your family and friends.
Vote for Bill Swann to be the Fourth Circuit Judge.

While there are several important races that will be decided after today's elections, it is the Fourth Circuit judgeship that will have me working a poll in South Knoxville after a day in court. Something has happened in this vicious race that has made Judge Swann's divorce the focus, when in fact it was David Lee's courtroom conduct during his outrageous divorce that created this race. I will not get into what happened during that divorce, as that is a decision left to Judge Swann's campaign. However, I do know people who have worked for David Lee, people who were involved in the divorce, and those who are familiar with the facts that led to Mr. Lee's incarceration. That knowledge alone would preclude me from supporting Mr. Lee for any judicial office.

Lee has been successful in making this campaign a referendum on Judge Swann's popularity. In doing so, Lee has taken the spotlight off of his own lack of qualifications for the position. This is quite unfortunate.

In my dealings with Judge Swann over the past several months, he has been nothing but professional. That isn't to say that I agree with many of his judicial decisions. In fact, I'm not sure if I would have decided half of the decisions in the same manner as Judge Swann. However, I also don't have over two decades of experience as a jurist, where one give the benefit of the doubt to a person accused of violating an order of protection and release him from custody, only to read of his wife's murder by the accused's hand the next day. Judge Swann errs on the side of caution, and people's lives may be saved for his deliberate path.

Second, I want to urge other voters from the 9th District of Knox County to vote for the term-limited incumbent in District 9A, Larry Clark. As John Schmid is doing in the 4th District, I am asking you to do so in the hopes that the Knox County GOP can select a strong candidate for the August general election. I have met with write-in candidate Peggy Lofin - who has a history of supporting and working for Democrats - and have not been inspired by write-in Johnny Chamberlain. If either fails to outpoll Larry Clark, the powers that be within the party will be able to choose a suitable candidate to run against Steve McGill in August. Mr. McGill is somewhat impressive, so the Republicans of South Knoxville will need a strong challenger to hold the seat. In these strange times, I feel this is the best way to insure that.

Third, I would like you to remember how Mike Ragsdale held you hostage in 2004, forcing you to choose between one tax option or the other. His "pound of flesh" approach should not sit well with conservatives. That alone should be enough of a reason to vote for Steve Hall.

Finally, I will leave you with my previous endorsements for today's races. Please exercise your right to vote. Many fine men and women have died so that you could have this privilege.

Knox County Mayor - Steve Hall
Circuit Court Judge - Judge Bill Swann
Chancellor, Division Three - Mike Moyers
Criminal Court Judge, Division Two - Judge Ray L. Jenkins
General Sessions Court Judge, Division Four - Andrew Jackson, IV
Circuit Court Clerk - Cathy Quist
Criminal & Fourth Circuit Court Clerk - Martha Philips
Register of Deeds - Steve Hall
Knox County Commissioner, 3rd District, Seat A - Tony Norman
Knox County Commissioner, 4th District, Seat A - Mike Alford
Knox County Commissioner, 5th District, Seat B - Kyle Phillips
Knox County Commissioner, 6th District, Seat B - Greg "Lumpy" Lambert
Knox County Commissioner, 7th District, Seat A - R. Larry Smith
Knox County Commissioner, 8th District, Seat A - Phil Ballard
Knox County Commissioner, 8th District, Seat B - Gary Sellers
Knox County Commissioner, 9th District, Seat B - David Kiger
District Attorney General, 4th Judicial District - Joe Baker
Knox County Clerk - Kelvin Moxley (Write-In)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Texas Supreme Court to Rule on Church Discipline

Do the courts have the authority to regulate matters within the church? That is the question before the Texas Supreme Court. I don't condone the actions of this particular church, as it is the duty of the church to preach to those struggling with the wages of sin, but I certainly am not comfortable with the idea of the government getting involved with private church business. This from our friends at the Liberty Legal Institute in the Lone Star State:

Texas Supreme Court Takes First of Its Kind Religious Liberty Case

PLANO – The Texas Supreme Court just announced that it granted the petition for review and will hear arguments in the Penley v. Westbrook case, a case filed by Liberty Legal Institute.

“This is the first case of its kind at this level, which will determine whether the courts have the authority to interfere with internal church matters, such as church discipline” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute.

Mrs. Penley, who had been a member of an area church, sued Pastor Westbrook over a letter he coauthored to the congregation disassociating the congregation from Mrs. Penley. According to church bylaws, she acted contrary to biblical teachings regarding marriage and refused to repent of her sin.

“The Constitution prohibits people from suing churches and pastors for following biblical mandates that require the church to disassociate from unrepentant members,” Shackelford said.
Pastor Westbrook sent a letter to the members of the Crossland Community Bible Church on November 7, 2000, informing them of Mrs. Penley’s decision to terminate her marriage without any biblical basis and a biblically inappropriate relationship with another man. The letter explained the biblical authority for disciplinary action against her and the disciplinary process outlined in Scripture.

“The U.S. Constitution protects the right of a church to choose its members and govern itself in any manner it chooses according to doctrine and faith, without government interference,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Legal Institute. “Pastors also have a constitutional right to inform other church members of the influence of sin on church members and the steps being taken to address such sin."


Hawkins County Recap

The VOLConWife and I took the scenic route up Highway 11W to Rogersville for the Hawkins County Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night. I had been told that the event was sold out, and it certainly seemed that way when we found two full parking lots at Cherokee High School. It turns out that the Hawkins County GOP had sold all 350 tickets to their Lincoln Day Dinner, making the sold out evening the most attended of the annual events in Hawkins County history. After large crowds in Washington County, Sullivan County, and Grainger County, it is apparent that East Tennessee is already moving into election mode months before the August primary.

After checking in and securing our meal tickets, we spoke to several candidates, staffers, and attendees throughout the room. Because every seat was accounted for, we had to search for two seats side-by-side, which meamt that we sat between the Richard Venable camp and Larry Waters contingent (both candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat). As I told some of the staffers for other candidates for that seat, my proximity to Mayor Venable and Mayor Waters should not be taken as an endorsement of either candidate.

Prior to the formal beginning of the program, attendees were able to sort through piles of campaign materials on their tables. With local elections only a matter of days away, plus nine of the 1st District candidates, two gubernatorial candidates, and all three U.S. Senate candidates in attendance, the amount of materials – cards, pamphlets, coasters, notepads, candies, pens – was almost too much to bear. I took a few of the more interesting pieces home to read (and used Circuit Court judicial candidate Tom Wright’s notepad to take notes on the speeches to follow, rather than use my reporter’s notebook), but most of the materials were left unread by me and most of those who I observed.

Hawkins County Chairwoman Cecile Testerman started the program by delivering a warm welcome. She turned the microphone over to Mike Faulk, noted Church Hill attorney and First Vice Chairman of the Hawkins County GOP, who served as emcee for the rest of the evening. Following the invocation, singing of the National Anthem, and Pledge of Allegiance, the dinner line formed. Just as fast, the candidates formed what can only be compared to a receiving line at a wedding or state event leading into the serving area.

First up was Jim Bryson, who recognized me as one of the 16 bloggers from the Bryson for Governor Blog. He admitted that he had quit reading the blogs because of the negative attacks they tended to contain. I certainly hope he is prepared for what is to come when Bredesen’s hatchetmen (like Mike Kopp?) start feeling the heat as Bryson eats into the incumbent’s early lead.

I then briefly spoke to Mark Albertini (another gubernatorial candidate whom I had met at the SRLC in Memphis), Bob Corker, and Van Hilleary, as well as some of the local candidates and other well-wishers who are regular readers of VOLuntarilyConservative, before selecting my food. Interestingly enough, I have yet to have any rubber chicken on the “rubber chicken circuit” this year. At Hawkins County, the choice was between roast beef and a casserole, along with green beans, roasted potatoes, roll, salad, and some excellent deserts (red velvet cake for me). Ed Bryant had positioned himself at the exit of the serving area, which meant that he couldn’t shake hands but had the whole stage to himself.

After eating, I made my way around the room to speak to a few 1st District candidates, including Vance Cheek and David Davis, as well as members of Rep. Davis’ staff. I also made some inquiries to see if there was anything to the reports from Friday that there might be problems with the straw poll voting. There seemed to be some worry amongst several of the House and Senate candidates, but there weren’t any solid findings that would suggest foul play.

The meal having concluded, Mr. Faulk returned to the official program. There were some humorous moments at the start, including references to a Senate District 29 voting booth that had been established in the lobby, with separate lines for dead voters, voters outside of the district, and felons. This was one of several references to the scandal-plagued Ophelia Ford. While it may be true that the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate may not tie Ophelia, John, and Harold, Sr., to Harold Ford, Jr.’s campaign, what very well may happen is that the entire Democratic Party in Tennessee may be tied to the anchor that is the Ford family’s corruption. If that is the case, you may hear the song that was played later on in the evening – “Voting in Memphis” (sung to Marc Cohn's “Walking in Memphis”) – again, as well as see copies of Robert McCain’s “Donkey Cons” along the trail, highlighting the Democrats as the party of corruption.

Local candidates and media were then introduced, including myself. This is more evidence of a trend that bloggers are gaining near equal treatment at political events as the mainstream media folks. Justice Sunday II, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and now Lincoln Day Dinners show that bloggers are gaining more respect by political candidates. Another aspect that stuck out to me was the number of local contested primaries that were taking place in Hawkins County. Other counties – including Knox – should be envious.

Each of the 1st District Congressional candidates in attendance was then given one minute to address the audience. The time limit was strictly enforced, and the order was set by the candidates’ last name – in reverse. Excerpts of the quick speeches are as follows:

Larry Waters – The Sevier County Mayor started by saying that it was his hope that Congressman Bill Jenkins would have run again so that none of this would be necessary. Waters appealed to voters by stating that he feels he best represents their values and could bring jobs to the district. He described himself as a “Mountain Republican,” although he didn’t really define what that meant.

Richard Venable – The Sullivan County Mayor stated that being elected to represent the 1st District would be “the highest honor of my life.” (I couldn’t help but think that his remarks sounded somewhat familiar.) The focus of a Venable term would be constituent services, which Venable said were the hallmark of the Quillen and Jenkins years.

Dan Smith – Mr. Smith is from Washington County, and his address focused on issues such as the war on terror and energy policy. Where Mr. Smith showed his political inexperience was his admittance that he had never been to Rogersville before. I doubt that endeared Mr. Smith to the Hawkins County crowd.

Dr. Phil Roe – The current Vice-Mayor of Johnson City, Dr. Roe touted his experience in the health care field as evidence that he is qualified to deal with the nation’s “health care crisis.” An OB/GYN who has delivered over 5,000 babies, Dr. Roe is touring the entire 1st District on bicycle.

Richard Roberts – Mr. Roberts, a former staffer to Tennessee icon Howard Baker, spoke primarily on energy policy. He is an attorney from Greene County.

David Davis – Representative David Davis, who ran for the 1st District seat against Bill Jenkins back in 1996 after the retirement of Jimmy Quillen, touted his litany of endorsements from such groups as Tennessee Right to Life. He said that he was the “real conservative leader” in this race and declared that his open-door policy from the Tennessee House would be carried over to the U.S. House if he were elected.

Vance Cheek, Jr. – One of the former mayors of Johnson City in the race, Vance Cheek spoke of the “nice, clean race” that would occur, with the winner “reflecting the values of East Tennessee.” The primary roll of that winner, according to Cheek, would be to remedy the “out of control spending” that had permeated Washington, D.C. Cheek also referenced Jenkins’ calling for a balanced budget amendment and stated that, if he were elected, Cheek would do the same thing at the beginning of every session until it became a reality.

Bill Breeding – Another of the former mayors of Johnson City, Mr. Breeding spoke of the need to assist our schools and reform of road funding. I wish I had heard more of what Mr. Breeding had to say, but, to be truthful, I had a hard time understanding him.

Peggy Barnett – Ms. Barnett, a nurse practitioner from Sevier County, distinguished herself from the experienced political men in the room, stating that she was simply a “hard working American person.” Much like Dr. Roe, her address centered on health care and need for reforms in that arena.

The gubernatorial candidates were next. At least, they should have been. It had been decided that since Mark Albertini had already addressed the Hawkins County GOP at an earlier meeting of the organization earlier this year, he would not be allowed to speak on this night. Now I do support Jim Bryson and don’t believe that Mr. Albertini has a realistic shot at the nomination, but I do not agree with forbidding him to address the audience – especially with a straw poll to follow. Besides, why should Albertini be penalized for Bryson’s late entry into the race? In addition, the entire event ended up lasting 3 ½ hours. Extending the time by 3 minutes wouldn’t have made much of a difference or caused a disruption in the program. Mr. Albertini couldn’t really say much at the time without seeming ungrateful, but fundamental fairness should have allowed for equal time.

Jim Bryson’s address was rather brief and only hit upon a few key points. Most of those remarks centered on the theme of ethics – an area where the Bredesen Administration is woefully deficient. Bryson mentioned the Senate vote voiding the election of Ophelia Ford in the 29th District Senate race. He also mentioned his support of the recognition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, as well as his pledge to never enact a state income tax (a promise that the Knoxville News-Sentinel – given its claim of ignorance in Sunday’s editorial – must have missed).

The three candidates for U.S. Senate then spoke. They all gave abbreviated versions of their stump speeches.

Van Hilleary spoke of moral “slippage” in America under the watch of his generation. He referenced illegal immigrants not paying taxes, that “gas taxes will double if we don’t get serious,” and that the Congress was “spending money like drunken sailors.” He used a few double negatives, but overall gave a good address.

Bob Corker’s speech was nearly word-for-word from his stump speech. He spoke of his “optimistic and conservative outlook” before going into his four principles of conservatism. He altered his first one slightly, choosing to focus on China and oil more than jobs, but the others (immigration, small government, and faith) were pretty much the same. Corker finished by called for “another great American century.” If you have heard Corker at a Lincoln Day this year, you have pretty much heard this speech.

Ed Bryant told the crowd that he was there “to look (them) in the eye and ask for (their) vote.” He spoke of two key reasons as to why he was the candidate that Tennessee Republicans should choose as their nominee. The first was the resonance of 9/11. These serious times called for “serious-minded conservative leaders.” Similar motivations, said Bryant, caused him to volunteer for the Army during a time when service was not as revered by Americans. The second reason given by Bryant was that Harold Ford, Jr., could not be underestimated. In particular, Bryant stated that he provided the starkest contrast to Ford, who will try to run as a conservative despite his liberal record. Finally, Bryant concluded by appealing to our greatest strength - not to our military might or economic power, but to “the goodness of the American people.”

Congressman Bill Jenkins and Tennessee GOP Chairman Bob Davis then concluded the night’s speeches. Jenkins spoke of the founder of Greenpeace and his conversion to becoming pro-nuclear power. He also said that it was “time that we started acting like Americans, that it was time that we started being evangelical about being Americans. Davis spoke about the various races throughout the state, but his real focus was on defeating Governor Phil Bredesen. “If you like being 48th in nearly every single national category, then Phil Bredesen is your guy,” stated Davis.

After the speeches, there was some time before the results of the straw poll were announced. This created some consternation amongst some of the campaign staffers, as did the different times for ballot collecting (some were collected after they were passed out and before Congressman Jenkins spoke, while others were picked up after the Jenkins speech). However, the results were eventually announced, although there was some confusion as to how many votes Richard Venable received in the 1st District poll. It was originally announced that Venable had received 63 votes. However, Tim Whaley, a Venable staffer, approached me shortly after the announcement and said that there had been a mistake, that Venable’s 63 votes were only from one half of the room and he had received 8 more votes for a total of 71. I approached members of the Hawkins County GOP who assisted in the counting of the votes to confirm, but I was unable to receive a solid confirmation as to what had occurred. I did see the final tallysheet, though, and the “63” had been scratched out and replaced by a “71.”

As for claims that some of the candidates had bussed in voters or attempted to stack votes, I certainly didn’t see any of that, and I kept a close lookout for any improprieties. Yes, most candidates brought their families, but that is a practice that should be encouraged, not ridiculed. Besides, a family member’s vote is just as relevant as a staffer’s. There were also claims about the ages of voters, but that just isn’t relevant in a straw poll. After all, if teenagers aren’t allowed to vote in straw polls, why should those who aren’t residents of Hawkins County be allowed to participate? There certainly was no obvious bias by the Hawkins County GOP that I saw, either, so that rumor can be put to rest.

Overall, it was a great event. I would like to thank Mike Faulk – not only for being one of the best Lincoln Day emcees in recent memory, but also for assisting in our arrangements. If it wasn’t for Mike’s help, I’m not sure if we would have been able to attend (and this extremely long missive would not exist). I would also like to thank all of the people of Hawkins County who made me feel at home. This is especially gratifying since Hawkins County was once my home, many moons ago. I don’t get up to Rogersville as often as I would like, and I will have to make sure that error doesn’t happen again.

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